Thursday 31 December 2015

TBR Orphans Final Numbers + Challenge Me!

On this last day of the year it's time to look back on my TBR Orphans Challenge.

I tried to read at least 1 book each month that's been on my shelves for more than three months.
There was only one month that I didn't succeed, and in February I even read 4! orphans.

The total of TBR Orphans I read in 2015 was 15.

Next year I will set myself the same goal again: to read at least 1 orphaned book each month.

But I also want an extra challenge!

I want recommendations from you!

Tell me what book you think I should give a try, and I'll pick at least 5 of those recommendations and will try to read them next year.

Have a great New Year's Eve!

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Top Pearls 2015 - Giveaway

And after listing my top reads of 2015 it's time for a giveaway!

One reader of my blog will win a book of her/his choice, as long as it's available at bookdepository and costs no more than 14 Euro.

Giveaway is over!
The winner is: Blodeuedd

*Pearls Cast Before a McPig is not responsible for books that get lost in the mail*

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Top Pearls 2015 - Continuing Awesomeness and Stand Alone Awesomeness

And today the rest of my 2015 Pearls.

Today I highlight the authors who continue to write awesome books. Most of these have been on my Top Pearls list before in previous years.

I will also list two books by new to me authors that blew me away this year.

Continuing Awesomeness:

Dana Cameron
This year I read Hellbender, the third book in the really cool Fangborn series, and the first two books in Cameron's Emma Fielding series. The Emma Fielding series is very different, but just as cool as the Fangborn series, I must say. I have the next 3 books in my TBR pile.

Gini Koch
I can't believe there are already twelve books in the Katherine 'Kitty' Katt series. I've read both books that released this year, and I'm still loving this series.

Jeffe Kennedy
Fantasy, BDSM Romance, Erotic Paranormal Suspense: Jeffe Kennedy has all of them covered, and well! I haven't come across a book by Jeffe that I didn't love. Next to the books pictured here I also read Master of the Opera, and a few novellas as well.

Laura Bickle
I read both new books by Laura Bickle this year. The Dark Alchemy series is dark and totally awesome.

Linda Poitevin
I loved the first two books of the Grigory Legacy, so I was over the moon when the last two books became available in print this year. I read both and they were beautiful!

Stand Alone Awesomeness:

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
I won this book in a giveaway and was totally blown away by how beautiful it was. I'm even reluctant to pick up the sequel, because I don't want anything to spoil this story.

Last Flight by Liane Merciel
Yes, I'm totally cheating here. Last Flight is part of the Dragon Age world, and I got addicted to the Dragon Age games, and world this year. So technically it's not a Stand Alone. Still I think this book deserves a mention, because it's the book that was the most emotional read for me this year. It's beautiful and sad.

Check back tomorrow for a giveaway!

Monday 28 December 2015

Top Pearls 2015 - Great Beginnings and Endings

Just a few more days left of 2015, so it's time to tell you about my Top Pearls of this year.

This year I started on a couple of new series and had to say goodbye to others. Here are the first books in a series that made me eager to get my trotters on the other books, and two books that ended a series in a way that made me want to reread the series because I didn't want it to be over.


Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach is the first book in a really awesome SF trilogy. I was hooked from the start and I've already read the whole trilogy. Recommended for SF fans, but also for people who don't like their SF 'hard-boiled'.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine is a beautiful Steampunk YA read about the Library of Alexandria. I loved this first book and will be getting hold of the second book once it releases.

Larcout by K.A. Krantz is the first book in really cool Fantasy series. I loved the heroine and the world building. I'm eagerly awaiting book 2.

Matched by Ally Condie is one of those books I thought I would find entertaining, but instead it turned out to be really beautiful and touching. I have the other two books in this trilogy in my TBR pile.

Partials by Dan Wells is another book that took me by surprise. The Dystopian world in this book is grim and very intriguing. I read two of the three books in this trilogy so far, and have the last one in my TBR pile.


Age of Blood by Shauna Granger is the last book in the awesome Ash and Ruin trilogy. This trilogy is a must for everyone who loves Post Apocalyptic YA.

Deadland Rising by Rachel Aukes is the conclusion of the Deadland Saga, a truly amazing Zombie Apocalypse Trilogy. If you like your zombies nasty, your bad guys even worse, and your heroes flawed, but likeable, this is the trilogy you should get!

More Pearls tomorrow!

Friday 25 December 2015

On McPig's Wishlist - Sweet

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas!
Here's a book that won't be among my Christmas presents, but that I hope to get hold of in 2016, when the paperback releases.

Sweet (Sweet #1)
by Emmy Laybourne

The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv's invitation. She's already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli-the hottest guy ever!-and she's too sick to even try the sweetener. And that's before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a 'romance' with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it's Laurel that he's determined to save.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation in Sweet that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong!

Expected publication of paperback: June 7th 2016 by Square Fish

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Or get the hardback:

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Thursday 24 December 2015

Positive - Book Review

by David Wellington

What is it about:
Anyone can be positive...

Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City. But Finn's sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease—latent inside her since before her son's birth.

Finn, too, can be infected. If he remains healthy for the last two years of the potential incubation period, he'll be cleared. Until then, he must be moved to a special facility for positives, segregated to keep the healthy population safe.

Tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive, Finn is exiled from the city. But when marauders kill the escort sent to transport him, Finn must learn how to survive alone in an eerie, disintegrated landscape. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger is his fellow humans.

What did I think of it:
This is a really cool read.

Finn is totally clueless at times, I must say. If not for being so lucky to run into people who for some reason or other are kind enough to help him, Finn would have been dead within the first few chapters. And don't get me started on how at one point he actually turns into a leader. How!? Why do people follow that naive wimp?

You might think I don't like Finn, but that's not the case. I liked him, I just had wanted to see more personal growth, and to see him turn into someone you would actually want to follow because he gets things done, not because he's lucky.

That aside: I loved the world building, the action, the zombies, and all the different people Finn meets. Wellington paints a future that's grim and gritty, and next to the people who help Finn, he also encounters a lot of nastiness. One of the things I love about Post Apocalyptic fiction is reading how people react to the situation. Dire circumstances drive people to extremes, and that's why stories about zombies and other Post Apocalyptic horrors lend themselves well for showing human nature in all its terrible glory.

All in all I loved this book, flawed lead character and all. It will be placed on my keeper shelves, and I will investigate what other books Wellington has written.

Why should you read it:
It's a gritty and cool Post Apocalyptic read.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Wednesday 23 December 2015

The Christmas Dragon - Book Review

The Christmas Dragon (Among the Mythos #2)
by Ruthanne Reid

What is it about:

All Katie Lin wants is to get away from her family: from the magic, from the mayhem, and from the never-ending war. Unfortunately, someone has other ideas, and sends her a box. A box that jumps.

The tiny fire hazard inside may just force her back to Wales - and right into the path of a dragon war, the Crow King, and at least one reluctant elf prince. Sometimes, running away just doesn’t work as planned.

What did I think of it:
I picked this up as part of my seasonal reading. Well, this might be called The Christmas Dragon, but the only Christmassy thing is that the dragon is left as a Christmas present on Katie's porch.

Otherwise this is a Fantasy story. It's nice enough, but I didn't get the main plot. It seemed that everything that happened was unnecessary. It never became clear to me just why the box was given to Katie, but maybe that's just me.

Anyway: the story was entertaining, the world building nice, and the characters interesting. So apart from not getting the necessity of this story, I enjoyed reading this novella. I'm not sure if I will read other books in this series though.

Why should you read it:
It's an entertaining Fantasy novella.

Buy from Amazon

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Teaser Tuesdays - Blood Engines

The frog jumped straight for the apprentice, who threw up her hands and spoke a stream of slippery words. The frog stopped in midair, dangling at roughly shoulder-level, kicking its legs.

(page 16, Blood Engines by T.A. Pratt)

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday 21 December 2015

Mercury Retrograde - Book Review

Mercury Retrograde (Dark Alchemy #2)
by Laura Bickle

What is it about:
Something venomous has come to Temperance...

It's been two months since Petra Dee and her coyote sidekick Sig faced off against Temperance's resident alchemist, but things are far from quiet. When an Internet video of a massive snake in the backcountry of Yellowstone goes viral, a chase for the mythical basilisk is on. Monster hunters swarm into the area, and never one to pass up the promise of discovery, Petra joins in the search.

Among the newcomers is a snake cult on wheels―the biker gang Sisters of Serpens. Unlike some, the Sisters don't want to kill the basilisk―they want to worship it. But things get complicated when the basilisk develops a taste for human flesh that rivals the Sisters' own murderous skills.

Meanwhile, the alchemical tree of life is dying, and the undead Hanged Men of Temperance who depend on it know the basilisk may be their last chance for survival.

With time running out for everyone around her, Petra will be forced to decide who survives and who she must leave behind.

What did I think of it:
I'm a total fanpiggy when it comes to Laura Bickle, so it might not surprise you I got my trotters on this book as soon as I could. I even debated if I should get the ebook, so I could read it sooner, but I wanted the print version to hug and pet.

And this book was worth the extra wait.

I love Petra and Sig, they're an awesome team. Petra has had enough happening to her she's sensible and smart. She doesn't just run into things blind. That doesn't mean she's not caught by surprise at times.

There's lots going on: a big nasty basilisk, the tree of life is dying, Gabe not recognizing Petra, and lots more. I was hooked from the start. Will Petra be able to defend herself when she encounters the basilisk? Will Gabe recover his memories? Can they help each other stay alive? And what's going on with Cal?

This book is action-packed and at times grim. I feared for the life of some of my favorite characters. There are wins and losses along the way, and the ending gives hope and closure on some things, but also gives a glimpse of more nastiness coming Petra's way.

You can bet I'll be getting my trotters on the next book!

Why should you read it:
It's an awesome Dark Fantasy read.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Friday 18 December 2015

The Fallen - Book Review

The Fallen (The Enemy #5)
by Charlie Higson

What is it about:
First the sickness rotted the adults' minds. Then their bodies. Now they stalk the streets, hunting human flesh.

The Holloway crew are survivors. They've fought their way across London and made it to the Natural History Museum alive - just. But the fight will never end while the Enemy lives, unless there's another way...

The kids at the museum are looking for a cure. All they need are medical supplies. To get them means a journey down unknown roads. Roads where not only crazed, hungry sickos hide in the shadows. Suddenly it's not so clear who - or what - they're fighting.

What did I think of it:
It's been a while since I read the other books in this series, so it took a bit of effort to get back into the story. These books not following each other chronologically, but skipping back and forth in time, or taking place at the same time, does make it even more difficult to keep track of events.

Still after the first few chapters I was back on track and once again gripped by the story.

There's lots of action and overall mayhem. Higson still doesn't shy away from killing off what seem like important characters, and adds more strange and creepy events and characters to the mix. There were some new characters I wasn't so sure about, but maybe they'll grow on me (if they live long enough).

It does seem like things are heading more and more towards an end game. With two more books to go I'm very curious what will happen next, and if at least some of my favorite characters will survive.

The book does end with a cliffhanger. Luckily I have the next book in my TBR pile, although if the next book will continue where this one left off is anyone's guess. That just means I will have to make sure to get the last book in this series soon as well ;-)

Why should you read it:
This is a really cool post-apocalyptic series for younger teens.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Thursday 17 December 2015

A Titan for Christmas - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

A Titan for Christmas
by Aria Kane

What is it about:
When Jenna's job as an engineer makes her miss her flight home from the mining colony on Titan, she's heartbroken she won't be able to make it back to Earth in time for Christmas with her family. Until a coworker gives her another option: private cargo pilots sometimes take on passengers.

Grayson pilots the only ship leaving Titan in time to make it back to Earth before Christmas. He doesn't want any passengers, but Jenna convinces him to take her on the three-day trip. Neither of them planned for the passion that erupts on the tiny cargo ship.

Then Jenna realizes Grayson is transporting extremely dangerous cargo. When she discovers why a man like Grayson would take such a risk, she has to decide whether she'll turn him in or help him.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
Another SF Christmas Romance. This one actually takes place in space, but no aliens this time.

The romance is hot and fast, and there's a a very convenient and quick solution to the main conflict, but once again I'll blame it on a Christmas Miracle.

I'm starting to think these Holiday novella's are all about the warm, fuzzy feelings and the rest is optional :p

Still this is an enjoyable read, so don't mind my snarking.

Why should you read it:
It's a nice SF Christmas Romance.

Buy from Amazon

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Soulbound - Book Review

Soulbound (Legacy of Tril #1)
by Heather/Zac Brewer

What is it about:
Tril is a world where Barrons and Healers are Bound to each other: Barrons fight and Healers cure their Barrons' wounds in the ongoing war with the evil Graplar King. Seventeen-year-old Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. In Tril, and at Shadow Academy, where she is sent to learn to heal, it is against Protocol for Healers to fight. So Kaya must learn in secret. Enter two young men: One charming, rule-following Barron who becomes Bound to Kaya and whose life she must protect at all costs. And one with a mysterious past who seems bent on making Kaya's life as difficult as possible. Kaya asks both to train her, but only one will, and the consequences will change their lives forever.

What did I think of it:
I have a taste for Fantasy lately, and this book sounded like it would fit my appetite.

And it's indeed a cool YA Fantasy read.

I really liked the setting and the overall world building. There's some mystery about why the Barron's and the Graplar king are fighting, but that didn't dim my enjoyment in the story. I also really liked Kaya: She is stubborn and doesn't accept the boundaries that are set on her by protocol and tradition. She's willing to fight for her beliefs.

There's lots of action and intrigue (and a love triangle, because this is YA after all), and even though some 'twists' could be seen from miles away I very much enjoyed the story.

There's a bit of a cliffhanger ending, but not so much that I was fretful over the fact that there's no sequel (yet). If there will be a sequel I will most certainly get my trotters on it, but if this is all I get I'm a happy piggy as well.

I might give other books by Brewer a try.

Why should you read it:
It's a very entertaining YA Fantasy read.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Teaser Tuesdays - Mercury Retrograde

In the sky things were simple. There was no magic that could touch him here. No blood. No pain. There was just sun and air and sky.

(page 13, Mercury Retrograde by Laura Bickle)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday 14 December 2015

Noelle In His Heart - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

Noelle In His Heart (Celestial Seasons #1)
by C.E. Kilgore

What is it about:
A Christmas romance with a Sci-Fi twist!

Noelle has made the same wish for the past six years to the angel on top of Father Nathan's Christmas Tree. All she wants for Christmas is someone with warm arms to hold her and who can understand that she has commitments - commitments which include the twenty-six children at the foster center she volunteers for.

Stranded on Earth six years ago, Steve and his crewmates have done a pretty good job of secretly finding a place in human society, but it doesn't erase the loneliness that hits hardest around the holidays. He longs for companionship and someone who will understand that his alien heart can love just as deeply.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
Yet another really nice read.

The aliens have been on earth for six years so know their way around, and apart from some anatomical differences they're pretty much human.

The romance was sweet and for a novella it had a nice build up. Steve and Noelle were both a bit too perfect at times in my opinion, but it's Christmas so sugar and sweetness are expected.

The other aliens that got stranded on earth with Steve sounded more interesting than Steve I will confess. All of them are set up for a romance of their own, and there are two other books in the series, one a Valentine's romance. I might pick that one up in February.

All in all this is a nice Christmas Romance with a small sprinkling of SF.

Why should you read it:
It's a nice and sweet SF Christmas novella.

Buy from Amazon

Friday 11 December 2015

Zom-B Baby - Book Review

Zom-B Baby (Zom-B #5)
by Darren Shan

What is it about:
B has spent the last few months bunking with the Angels, a group of teens dedicated to eradicating the evil dead from the face of the earth, beginning with the undead roaming the abandoned wreckage that was once London. But the Angels' mission is a bit more complicated than that, and B takes to the streets of a very changed London to decide: is it a mission really to be believed? But instead of answers, B finds a horror beyond imagining.

What did I think of it:
This one was better than the last, although I'm not too happy about the fact that both the previous book and this one are heavy on religion. I know Shan is playing with lots of different themes for this series, but having to read whole sermons on how God has a plan with the zombies got a bit tiresome. To my relief B was skeptical of all the God talk, but that seemed to change towards the end of this book. I'm hoping this won't turn into a heaven versus hell story.

That aside: the story is moving forwards again. There are some really cool and creepy developments in this book, and I'm curious what will happen next. I'll be reading the next book soon.

Why should you read it:
It's a cool and creepy zombie read.

Zom-B Baby:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Zom-B Chronicles III (contains Zom-B Baby and Zom-B Gladiator):

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Thursday 10 December 2015

Hey Santa - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

Hey Santa
by Jessica E. Subject

What is it about:
She doesn’t want a lot for Christmas…

Claire Otton dreads spending another holiday alone. When her best friend convinces her to approach the sexy mall Santa, she takes the chance and asks him out, hoping for so much more.

He’s waiting under the mistletoe…

Although Andreas Castellanos blends in on Earth, he knows he will never belong. But when the gorgeous woman he’d been staring at invites him to dinner, he has a hard time saying no.

All they’re asking for…

Can these two lonely souls find magic together or will their secrets steal their chance of a happy Christmas?

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
A nice, quick SF Christmas read.

Because this is a short story the romance was quick and felt a bit disjointed. Claire sure is taking the fact Andreas is not human very lightly. But hey: it's a Christmas miracle perhaps?

All in all this is a nice read, but with a bit more work put into the romance this could have been better in my opinion.

Why should you read it:
It's a nice SF Christmas romance.

Buy from Amazon

Wednesday 9 December 2015

A Fantastic Holiday Season - Book Review

A Fantastic Holiday Season: Volume 2 - The Gift of Stories
by Kevin J. Anderson, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Kristine Rusch, Jonathan Maberry, Eric James Stone, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Quincy J. Allen, Ken Scholes, Sam Knight, David Boop, Heather Graham, Brad R. Torgersen, and Patricia Briggs
Editor: Keith J. Olexa

What is it about:
’Tis the Season for 14 magical, macabre and merry tales to make your Holidays Fantastic.

Gingerbread houses, caroling carolers, brightly trimmed trees, big family dinners, pristine snowfalls-the familiar pleasures of the season.

But what better pleasure is there than a good holiday story? So open this winter solstice sampler and indulge in fully festive fantasies, nightmares before Christmas, and stunning space-age celebrations. These stories will warm hearts and minds like a blazing Yule log.

What did I think of it:
I will confess I totally got this anthology for Patricia Briggs' story, which is about Asil, one of my favorite characters from her books.

That being said: this is a very entertaining Holiday Anthology. There's lots of Santa Clauses, holiday cheer mayhem, and more.

I will tell a bit about the stories I liked the most.

The Longest Night by Mercedes Lackey:
A story that takes place in a world where there are mages who pose as some kind of super humans as far as I understand. The story is set at a boarding school (one of my weaknesses) where the students get a visit from something a lot darker than Santa Claus. I had some minor grumbles (Midwinter does not fall on December 24!), but otherwise this story was very enjoyable.

Midnight Trains by Kristine Rusch:
A bittersweet story set in Paris. It's about loneliness, belonging, and hope. I loved the mood and setting of this story.

A Christmas Feast by Jonathan Maberry:
This story is set in Maberry's Rot and Ruin world, so that means zombies! It's about a man and his very young brother trying to find a safe place in a zombie filled world. Both full of despair and hope. This story makes that I want to pick up the third book in the series one of these days.

Yes, Virginia2097c, There Is a Santa Claus by Sam Knight:
Not being from the US, I didn't know the editorial this story is based on, but I looked it up and read it afterwards. This story is set in a future driven by consumerism. A young girl starts to question the world around her. It's very touching and a great tribute to the original editorial in my opinion.

A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas by Eric James Stone:
Humans try to colonize a world where an ancient city sleeps... This sounds a lot more ominous than this story is. In fact this is a really fun story that made me laugh and was touching at the same time. A perfect SF short.

Unappreciated Gifts by Patricia Briggs:
Asil, a lone (were)wolf, gets set up by 'well meaning' friends for a blind date. Things turn out a bit different than everyone expected though. I loved this story. As mentioned above, Asil is a favorite character of mine. This story gave him even more depth and character than he already had. I wouldn't mind if he gets his own book, or stars in more short stories.

All in all this was a fun read. There were some stories I couldn't get into, but overall I had a good time with this anthology. I might even check out other books by some of the authors I hadn't heard about before picking up this book.

Why should you read it:
It's a very entertaining Holiday themed anthology.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery